Homeless in Redding – Part 3: Meet Shannon – “Just trying to get by…”

Shannon has been homeless "on and off" for 15 years.

I heard the woman before I saw her.

“Get some chicken nuggets,” came a raspy female voice behind a clump of manzantia bushes that poorly hid a pop-up tent, a heaped shopping cart and a bearded man.

The man spoke softly and then ambled off, away from her, the campsite, out of the brush and in the direction of the strip mall and fast-food restaurants.

I called out hello and walked toward the tent, which was empty, but outside it, in the dirt, was an inflated double mattress covered with a tangle of thick plaid sleeping bags and blankets.  The area held a stack of sooty rocks with an empty Chef  Boyardee ravioli can perched on top. Strewn about the site where plastic shopping bags, cardboard fast-food boxes, AM-PM plastic cups, and two half-bottles of neon-colored soda. A chrome wheelchair was there, too, and in the dirt were the front and back heavy plastic forms of some kind a body brace, which I later learned belonged to the bearded guy.

I called out again, and the blankets moved. Tufts of mussed sandy-blond hair appeared, and then a tanned face. Eyes opened – menthol-candy blue – topped with long, pale lashes. The woman rubbed her eyes and stretched.

I asked if she was OK. She said yeah, she’d been sleeping – “just trying to get by”.

I apologized for bothering her and asked if we could talk. She said sure, just as soon as she sat up, which she did, a little off kilter. She threw back the covers. She wore stained sweatpants, a royal blue 2009 Super Bowl hoodie and a man’s forest green coat with a faux fur collar. She swung out one-and-a-half legs – the right leg was amputated to a sapling-slender tapered stump below the knee. Some bone disease with a long name took it, she explained when she saw me looking.

I told her my name, that I was a reporter, and why I was there – to talk with people about the topic of homelessness.  She nodded.

“That’s cool,” she said.

She looked around and asked me to please excuse the mess. She ran her palms over her head and smiled – mostly gum – few teeth. The edges of her eyes fanned into crinkles.

“Bad hair day,” she said, pulling on a fleece camo hat.

Her name is Shannon. She calls this Redding hillside her home, and said she’s lived here on and off for 15 years. She pointed down the ravine and said oh yeah, she has a sister who lives down there, and a brother down there, and another brother down there. She said her “old man” Willy had gone to fetch some dinner.

“Heck, they’re all my brothers and sisters,” she said with a laugh.

Her smile sagged, and she asked what I wanted to know. I told her I had a million questions. She said go ahead, shoot.

We talked for more than an hour, until dusk. While she talked, she sometimes rubbed her leathery hands over her stump, or slid her long fingers up and down her arms beneath her sleeves, like someone applying body lotion.

Being homeless was not part of Shannon’s plan, she said. In fact, when Shannon was a little girl, she imagined she’d grow up to be a nurse.

“I wanted it all,” she said with a laugh. “Be a nurse, have a house, a car, everything.”

Shannon said she was a high school graduate, not a stupid person, and once “sort of had it all” – an apartment, kids, a man, the works, until her life fell apart because of a domestic violence situation that got her arrested and landed her in jail.

“I was defending myself and just kind of went into a rage,” Shannon said. She looked at her lap and shrugged her eyebrows and shoulders.

Asked about the extent of the domestic violence injuries, she said, “I was covered in bruises head to toe. He didn’t have a scratch on him.”

Shannon said after that, things went bad. Her grandparents, who’d raised her in Calistoga, died, and then her mother died, and that was pretty much it; no more family for Shannon.

Kids were born – starting when she was practically a kid herself, just a teenager. Now, Shannon’s kids are ages 7 to 14. When I mention that she’d lived out here for 15 years, she grinned.

“I said I was out here for 15 years – on and off.”

She went on to say her kids ended up living with their dad, who used to be homeless, but he isn’t now. In fact, one of her kids lives in Redding, which is why Shannon’s here, though “CPS isn’t wild” about the kids staying with their mother outdoors when they visit. Shannon said she can’t understand that mentality, after all, camping is good for kids, and they learn a lot about hunting for food and sleeping under the stars.

She pointed toward a bank of gray-and-white apartments nearby, where children’s yells spilled from open windows on this late  afternoon – the last in January.

“I’ll tell ya, sometimes I think it’s easier to live outside here than live inside one of those,” she said. “People say we must be crazy to live outside, but I say put me in an apartment with walls and lots of people crammed in and screaming kids and that would make me crazy. Actually, I think I’ve been outside for so long now that I have a hard time being indoors, you know? Claustrophobia or something. Besides, people talk about what’s right for kids. What exactly is right? I think kids learn better in nature. Indians lived in nature here and that was all right.”

Shannon said that despite her love of the outdoors, she doesn’t love trying to keep her home intact, especially when the cops keep taking it apart, nor trying to scrounge up food and clothes, not to mention that all the primary homeless services – the Mission, Living Hope, etc. – are miles away, way down the hill in Redding – which almost sounds as if she may as well be talking about another city.

Moving closer to Redding’s center does not appeal to her, either.

“No way,” she said. “And live next to all those crazy idiots down there?”

Shannon said that she gets tired of collecting new stuff all the time – new sleeping bags, new blankets, new tents, only to have the police red-tag everything and haul it away. She points to a number Sharpied by police on the tent flap – and said that it’s insulting to be a “just a number”. Shannon said she understands that it’s illegal to stay here – on private property – but feels she has no choice.

“Shit, the hardest part about being homeless is keeping your stuff. Then, when we get ransacked and red-tagged, where are we supposed to go? It irritates me pretty bad,” she said.

“I get what – $740 a month on S.S.I.? It takes about all of that to stay at the Capri Motel for a month, and that’s the worst place in town. But first you have to get there, and that takes more money. I wouldn’t mind getting into a quiet apartment sometimes, but everybody wants deposits and first and last and all kinds of extras and then they ask for credit lines and do this and do that and fill out this and fill out that and it’s just impossible.”

Then, there’s the issue of keeping clean, which is also nearly impossible, she said, and then people tell the homeless to get a job.

“Yeah, right. Who’s going to hire someone who can’t get a shower?”

With a sigh, she stops. It’s quiet out here, except for the nearby RABA buses and traffic. Down a ways there’s an occasional rustling in the bushes, and a stray dog stops to growl in that direction, but nothing materializes.

Asked what it’s like to live here, day after day, night after night, especially when it’s cold, Shannon said it’s not as bad as you’d think.

Shannon said sometimes coyotes come by, and really, even on that night when it was down to something like – what,16 degrees – she has a 5-pound sleeping bag and a whole bunch of blankets, and when you get under the whole pile, you’d never guess it’s 16 degrees outside.

She said yet another hardest part about being homeless is being dirty, having no place to clean up or wash clothes, unless you go to the Mission or Living Hope, which starts her description all over again of the trek it takes to get there. Her eyes cloud up, but tears just balance on lower eyelids as she talks about people who judge people like her, and how she’s not the only one in this situation.

“You’d be surprised how many people live out here,” she said. “The cops came and took our stuff, but a lot of people were just hiding, waiting for them to leave. And we always come back, because really, where are we to go? But the cops come back, too. They always do.”

Asked if she were queen of the world, what would she suggest to help the homeless, Shannon sits up straight and barely pauses before reciting a list of wishes, starting with a dumpster, to put garbage in.  But mainly, just give the homeless a chance, she says. And help the ones who have problems, like figure out if the problem that caused the homelessness is drugs or alcohol or depression or whatever, and then help them with it.

“If you really want homeless to succeed, you have to first help us figure out why we keep failing,” she said. “Everybody deserves a chance.”

But one of her biggest dreams, one she said she and her friends talk about all the time – one of their favorite topics – is if her fellow “brothers and sisters” could only pool their money – “lots of us are on S.S.I. or General Assistance or something” – and then they could buy this piece of land, not some remote BLM chunk that’s too far from everything. And on this land they’d allow people to camp if they wanted, or they’d have places to sleep indoors, for those who wanted to. There would be showers and food to eat without having to listen to a sermon. And washers and dryers and medical care.  And nobody would judge anybody. And the cops would leave them alone.

“But I really don’t think that’s going to happen soon,” she said.

So, now what?

Shannon said she’ll keep doing what she’s doing. Sometimes she’ll hop in her wheelchair and roll to where the stores are – “I can wheel faster than most people can walk” – and she’ll hold a sign that asks for money, which some people don’t like – “but hey, free speech and all” – and mostly, she’ll just live one day at a time.

Shannon said that she and her homeless family will continue to rely on each other. She said that they will maintain their own system of order, where they divvy up the hillside sleeping quarters according to who’s who, such as some women sleep in one place where it’s safe, and the felons and sex offenders are forced to go way, way to the other side by themselves, nowhere near those apartments with so many little kids around.

They’ll help each other pitch tents, and if someone makes a Round Table run for pizza, they’ll always share it with everyone – no matter who they are – “white, black, blue, pink, green” – whatever.

“I get more love from the people who sleep in the woods with me than anywhere else,” she said. ” We take care of each other.”

Shannon said she’ll continue to feel grateful for the many people who help her, like those who work on the Hope Van, and those at Shasta Community Health Center, and even the “Bethel kids” – some of whom come from all over the world.

“Those Bethel kids give us food and say stuff like, ‘Don’t give up, keep praying to God’.  Now, I don’t exactly know, of course. Maybe there’s a God and maybe there’s not. But I wonder sometimes, if there is a God, why would he let this happen?”

Dusk was setting in, and temperatures were dropping. Shannon squinted in the direction that her old man Willy had gone for McNuggets more than an hour earlier.

“You know, I’ve been here longer than anyone – almost 15 years. I was here before Tim got murdered with a chair leg, and I was here before Carol died over there,” Shannon said, tugging the big green coat around her.

“I guess you could say I’m kind of the senior person here.”

Shannon is 33 years old.

Click here for Part 1 of this series: Homeless Encampments: RPD Deals with Another Part of the City

Click here for Part 2 of this series: A Conversation with Randy Smith, Community Volunteer

Click here for the story about the community development of the Henderson Open Space.

Independent online journalist Doni Chamberlain founded what’s now known as anewscafe.com in 2007 with her son, Joe Domke of the Czech Republic. Prior to 2007 Chamberlain was an award-winning newspaper opinion columnist, feature and food writer recognized by the Associated Press, the California Newspaper Publishers Association and E.W. Scripps. She lives in Redding, CA.

Doni Chamberlain
Independent online journalist Doni Chamberlain founded what’s now known as anewscafe.com in 2007 with her son, Joe Domke of the Czech Republic. Chamberlain is an award-winning newspaper opinion columnist, feature and food writer recognized by the Associated Press, the California Newspaper Publishers Association and E.W. Scripps. She lives in Redding, California.
Comment Policy: We welcome your comments, with some caveats: Please keep your comments positive and civilized. If your comment is critical, please make it constructive. If your comment is rude, we will delete it. If you are constantly negative or a general pest, troll, or hater, we will ban you from the site forever. The definition of terms is left solely up to us. Comments are disabled on articles older than 90 days. Thank you. Carry on.

45 Responses

  1. Avatar LizAnn says:

    That was a great post Doni. Thank you. I wonder what it would take for Shannon's "dream camp" to become a reality here in Redding. It is so hit or miss – such a patchwork situation with no coherence- and raising decibels.

    I met with a man at the housing office at city hall last summer to discuss the homeless issue- anyone with even an ounce of compassion wants fellow humans to have the basics. We donate almost 700. in cash a year to the Good News Rescue mission and support two children in Nicaragua.

    I asked the City of Redding Employee about the increase in pan handlers, etc. and what was Redding's plan to help them. He made little to no eye contact with me and literally squirmed in his seat. He voiced no answers at all. There was a single sheet with a list of agencies out in the waiting room- I was left with that.

    I was raised in a middle class family and remain in that same seriously shrinking class today……… Imagine Shannon's "dream camp" here in Redding with 8,000 people in it. Would the powers that be really want all of the current invisible homeless to become visible— all over America? 8,000 people in a camp — That would be something that couldn't be hidden. A force to be reckoned with- p o l i t i c a l v i a b i l i t y possibly.

    I would love to have someone from the City of Redding weigh in on any plans for a permanent camp for the homeless.

    • LizAnn, I think it's our job as a community to ask the hard questions. And yes, the series will include Q&A's with leaders and key players, as well as those most informed about this issue.

  2. Avatar Brandon says:

    This article series is amazing. How many of us ever get the chance to see the world through the eyes of homeless? Not many of us. Thanks for your work, Doni. I think that it helps build understanding and compassion in our community.

    • You're very welcome. With each interview and Q&A I'm learning right along with you.

      I have no clue where this will end up, but I do know we will all be better informed about homelessness than when we started this series.

      I am so grateful to have such a bright, curious and civilized group of readers in the anewscafe.com family to join me on this journey, and participate in the conversation.

      Thank you.

  3. Avatar Livid says:

    Shannon is a member of what has become a minor- although typically more visible – element among the homeless known as the "chronically homeless". This group has been eclipsed in numbers by other groups for whom homelessness is usually a first-time experience, and very much related to the country's deteriorating economy.

    There are hundreds of people (including many families comprised of women and children – the fastest growing segment of the homeless population) who are bouncing from one temporary living situation to another, provided by anyone who is willing to take them in. These arrangements are often degrading at best and dangerous at worst. Many families in this area of low wages don't "qualify" for market-rate housing because they don't meet the standard requirement of having income that is three times the amount of the rent, and waiting lists for our totally inadequate amount of low-income/subsidized housing can run as long as five years.

    I hope Doni will speak with someone from a reputable, caring organization (I would suggest Northern Valley Catholic Social Services) who can put her in touch with one of the homeless families who are struggling valiantly to get back to a normal, productive life.

    In addition, in the course of working with the homeless I've spent nights outdoors off and on in cold weather – equipped with the warmest sleeping gear and clothing. At temperatures even above 16 degrees, sleeping bags and blankets eventually turn to ice around you. The only way prolonged exposure to extreme cold could be anything other than excruciatingly painful is if heavy alcohol consumption is involved. The person in this article obviously suffers from a phobia of enclosed spaces, which is unfortunate.

    • Livid,

      My mother in law was the development director for many years for a non-profit in the bay area called First Place Fund for Youth. The organization provides assistance to foster children who age out of the system. Part of the program is housing; the organization owns several apartment buildings in the Oakland area where foster youth live for 24 months while they learn to become self-sufficient.

      http://www.firstplaceforyouth.org/

      It seems this could be a good model here, too, for the transitionally homeless population that is expanding so rapidly.

      I also wonder if the same entity could "lease" land (from a farmer or from BLM) to create a Community Camp….with basic services like campground toilets & showers, a dumpster, permanent bbq pits, and concrete picnic tables under a 2 sided covered area. A solar powered well could be installed. People would camp there at their own risk and would be charged a nominal fee for waste and facilities management (pumping septic systems, maintaining the well pump, etc.) I know that Shannon's "dream" doesn't include living too far out, but it isn't realistic that an encampment that is a take-all-comers model would find support close to the city center.

  4. Brava, Doni! What an amazingly powerful piece. I think that you were so very wise to start with the "status quo" position and the perspective that mainstream society identifies with to set the stage for this dialogue. Shannon's experience now has such greater context.

    In 1998, my father and I helped develop and run a non-profit organization "Project Opportunity." Over the course of nearly a decade, we worked with multiple organizations (faith based and secular non-profits as well as for-profit corporations) as well as literally thousands of volunteers across the county to build affordable homes in Texas, Florida, Colorado, Arizona, and California. I couldn't exaggerate the success of the Project if I tried.

    There is an amazing power, far greater than the sum of its parts, that occurs when people come together to find solutions to the problems faced by the most vulnerable and marginialized within their community.

    Thank you for convening this discussion!!

  5. http://www.lennar.com/about/community/charitableh

    Lennar corporation is the company my father worked for that founded Project Opportunity. This is another funding model that they started to provide assistance for programs that support the transitionally homeless.

  6. Avatar the_bell_jar says:

    33. Wow. I didn't see that coming.

  7. Avatar Livid says:

    Bridgette,

    First Place is an outstanding program. The way aged-out foster youth are treated in this country is a national shame. Many of them are turned out the minute they turn 18 (in some cases even before high school graduation), and at least 25 percent wind up on the streets. Locally only about a dozen young people in that situation receive any real help each year.

    In addition to more help for aged-out foster kids, we are most definitely in need of a transitional housing facility for homeless women and children in this area. The couple of very small (and very time-limited) facilities we currently have are primarily drug rehabs that de-prioritize mainstream homeless families, and don't even begin to meet the need.

  8. Avatar Bob Grosch says:

    Doni,

    This was a great piece today!

    Thank you.

  9. Avatar Terry says:

    I'd like to second all the positive comments here. What a powerful piece, and it falls exactly at the right place in the series. And I agree – that Shannon is only 33 is heart-wrenching. Wow.

    I love the way the readers are already considering and discussing possible solutions!

    Thank you for getting us thinking and talking about such a crucial issue.

  10. Avatar Mark C says:

    Great job Doni!! You are right on target with your statement that it will take a community to even make a dent in the current homeless situation. There are so many complicating issues with such a diverse segment of our society that there can't be a simple answer, but even small steps can result in a beautiful journey if we keep our eyes open! Thanks for doing your part!

    Any news on the folks who were in the news a few months back regarding developing a piece of land for a community camp?

  11. Avatar 4catz4me says:

    As a point of education, I hope no one is trying to stave off the cold with alcohol – it's a capillary dilator that increases the risk of frostbite and hypothermia by making you feel as though you're warmer, even though you're really not.

    • Funny you should mention that. I just interviewed a man today who said he'd drink until he passed out so he wouldn't feel anything while he slept … the cold, a rock under his hip, etc.

  12. Avatar Livid says:

    She represents only one facet of homelessness. This element has always been with us and always will, given that there is nothing in their basic lifestyle they wish the change. Unfortunately articles like this just reinforce the negative stereotypes the community at large has of homeless people – that they are all substance-abusing panhandlers who "choose" to live this way. For many people who are now without the safety and security of stable housing, nothing could be further from the truth. Whatever resources we have should be dedicated to helping those who can actually benefit from the help they receive.

    Campgrounds don't work for children (for obvious reasons), or for the elderly, or for those whose health is precarious. Basically only adults in reasonably good health can tolerate the hardships of living outdoors and constant exposure to extreme temperatures without endangering their lives. Rather than focusing on creating a legal campground, the focus should be on providing actual shelter/housing. A good place to start would be with transitional housing for homeless women and children, who comprise a large (and growing) segment of our local homeless population.

  13. Avatar Livid says:

    4cat4me,

    Exposure to extreme cold also contributes to heart attacks and strokes all by itself for the reason you mentioned, which is exacerbated by alcohol.

    That's only one of many reasons I would hate to see local government "deal" with homelessness by creating a campground. Shelter and warmth is what's needed.

  14. Avatar pmarshall says:

    Thank you for that well-writen piece about Shannon. I just cannot imagine living like that and seemingly "liking" it. But there should be some land set aside, along with housing of some sort. The only problem would be who or what would provide the money for it. The City seems to be broke. It might also "get out of hand" with hundreds of people hanging in there. Yes, there must be an answer somewhere, somehow.

  15. Avatar Ginny says:

    Thank you, Doni, for another wonderful piece of new in the style that you are so good at.

    Possibley Bob has a good idea offered. But, I know how good you are about seeing your site to be fairl and balanced.

    God Bless.

  16. p.s.

    Dearest readers,

    As an aside, know that everyone I'm interviewing for this series- including the homeless – know their stories will be published on this website. In fact, I've given them business cards and invited them to keep up with the series at the library's computers.

    If you have personal information about specific story subjects – perhaps, for example, gleaned from professional interactions – please maintain that person's confidentiality and keep the information private.

    Knowing doesn't demand disclosing.

    Thanks for understanding.

  17. Avatar Livid says:

    It would be helpful to make a distinction between groups of the homeless. People like the subject of this article should technically be referred to as "street people" (those who prefer living on the streets). The "homeless" are people whose normal condition is to be "housed". Lumping them all into one category is doing a dis-service to people who really need – and want – help.

    As a former property manager I was in a position to arrange housing for a certain number of people over the years, but did not know enough in the beginning to make that distinction. As a result, people who generously agreed to donate the use of housing for a period of time were discouraged from continuing to help when street people abandoned this donated housing after a few days, often after trashing it. I quickly learned to tell the difference.

    When I put families into housing instead, the property was usually well cared for, and in many cases they wound up becoming permanent (and very grateful) tenants once they had the opportunity to get back on their feet.

    • Livid,

      I agree with your assessment that the transitionally homeless should be "triaged" differently as far as services offered than the chronically/perpetually/habitually homeless. Clearly, it is an entirely different story to attempt to rehabilitate a hard-core "street person" who has lived the majority of their lives on the street to providing assistance to the working poor family who is experiencing homelessness for the first time.

      I trust that the series will introduce us to the face and plight of the transitionally homeless amongst us, too…..

      No pressure, Doni.

    • This series is called Unsheleterd: Homeless in Redding – Situations to Solutions.

      I never sought to bite off the massive category of all homeless …

  18. Avatar Lori's Antiques says:

    Doni, brilliant work as always! Thank you for opening our eyes to such great needs in our Community! So sorry some people don't understand the work that you do each day with every story. This must have been a very difficult story for you to cover. Sadly, this is reality ALL around us as we sit safely, quietly and warm in our own shelter's! Such a great series….so sorry not everyone you chose to quote agreed to have his voice heard. It's a travesty for each of us trying to make a difference and help where help is so desperately needed! I applaud you in a huge way for your efforts! Thank you again Doni for providing a much needed voice in OUR Community and EVERYWHERE this reality exists! God bless you Doni! Keep up the great work as always! WE NEED YOU!

  19. Avatar Lori's Antiques says:

    To "Lived," it would be nice for you to identify yourself as you seem to have such a huge passion in the regard of this story! We each need to identify with the reality of the situation…IT'S HUGE! Without exposure like Doni is attempting to do, we can each go home warm and safe in our homes without consideration of these people in great need! They have NO voice without journalism as amazing and considerate as this. Please help us to understand your point of view! Thank you! Many of us work tirelessly to help! It would be great to understand your point of view. Thank you for considering "Lived." GBY

    • Hi, Lori 🙂

      If you are a follower of this movement in our community, then you will know Livid's "voice" well. She is a tireless, compassionate champion for the working poor and the transitionally homeless in our community.

      I won't betray her identity here…..that is her choice to make. However, I will say that I respect her wisdom and insight greatly….and I'm glad to hear you here, too, Lori.

      • Avatar Lori's Antiques says:

        Thank you Bridgette Brick-Wells for your articulate response. I cannot give myself credit for being a "follower of this movement in our Community" as you so eloquently put it. So please forgive me that I do not know "Livid's" voice well. I suppose you could say this plight is something I have just recently become quite passionate about as I too have lived without shelter. I now live in a modest 400sf apartment of 24 years and consider myself quite blessed! I am thankful for a roof over my head, & a place to lay my head with my precious felines. It is completely affordable and allows me the opportunity to continue working my business & now my non-profit Faithful Feline Friends during such difficult times! I have incredible Landlord's that took a chance on me all those years ago after suffering a horrible accident and being homeless as a result! They had no idea I would never leave. I did convince them I would be one of their best tenants ever…and as result I begged them to take a chance on me. They did! By "the Grace of God, go I…" I say that to myself each day….That same Grace from Him should be available to all living in dire circumstances! I so appreciate the passion involved with every statement here, although I don't understand the criticism being spoken about Doni and her continuing series! EVERY voice, every spoken word helps the rest of us to understand the severity of a situation. I am so thankful for her resolve in approaching a much needed topic of conversation! As for "Livid," I so appreciate & understand her need for privacy and even more I appreciate her advocacy for such an important issue! I believe "TOGETHER" is the ONLY way we make a difference for any important cause! I hope my response sheds some light on my heart and I pray we will ALL WORK TOGETHER to make a difference for all God's beings! Thank you for your kind words Bridgette & for your heart in doing what is needed & right in all of our needs! God bless you! Much love to all! ~Lori~

  20. Avatar shelly shively says:

    Thanks, Doni, for letting us hear Shannon. Excellent article that provokes serious answers for multi-layered problems.

  21. Avatar Adam says:

    Doni, old pal, you read my mind!

    I drive by the area you're describing every morning on my way to work. I started noticing quite a few more tents maybe a month or so ago – although many are gone now.

    My co-worker and I were just talking about this subject the other day. At one time he was a high-ranking city official. He told me that this area has been used by the homeless for many years. I frankly had no idea it was there until the brush fire cleared it out a few years back and made it more visible from the road.

    Anyway… to the point and I suppose there are two: The first is that I'm glad you did this, I was just recently thinking that a reporter really needs to get in there and expose this, let folks know what's going on, bring it out in the open. Because, and this gets to my second point, I've lived here all my life and I was completely oblivious to the situation back there. I wonder how many others are as well.

    Thank you for this. Maybe it will spark some creative ideas to helps some folks back there on that hill.

    -Your old pal, Adam 🙂

  22. Avatar Grammalyn says:

    What a punch at the end! 33 years old. I didn't see that coming. They say if you don't have a solution that you are part of the problem. My heart breaks for these people, but I have no solution. They are all someone's daughter, son, sister, brother. Very sad.

  23. Avatar Livid says:

    Thank you Bridgette – that's very kind of you.

    I used to use my real name when commenting in local forums, but I became the target of so much harrassment from certain quarters for my rather radical views that I even considered the need for a restraining order at one point. I was forced to move for that reason, and started to use screen names at the same time. I've just continued to use them out of habit.

    • Livid (seems so strange to call someone that) but people will say the same thing to you whether they know your real name or not.

      As you notice here, the majority of commenters on anewscafe.com use their real names, which really goes a long way toward boosting credibility, IMHO.

      This isn't "the other site" – and I look forward to the day when you feel comfortable enough to use your real name here.

      Besides, Livid just sounds so angry.

  24. Avatar Canda says:

    Doni, I join the many who applaud you for this relevant and thought-provoking series. I'm glad most readers realize that it is a series, and have the patience to wait for the other segments before jumping down your throat. I would be interested in knowing the identity of Livid, as he or she sounds like a knowledgeable and passionate advocate for the homeless. I'm also enjoying the articulate and intelligent comments of Bridgette. What a great discussion on such an important and heart-breaking topic. Thank you, Doni, for opening our eyes, and giving us food for thought. I wouldn't be surprised if some really great ideas came from these discussions. Hopefully it will get the ball rolling in the right direction.

  25. Avatar Livid says:

    Doni,

    I don't care what people say to or about me – I've got a pretty thick skin. At the time the incident I mentioned above took place, people were able to connect my name to an address, and actual threats were involved.

    However, that connection is no longer possible, and anyone who knows me would recognize my writing anyway, so you are probably right.

  26. Avatar Doug Mudford says:

    Doni

    I've told you many times how much I admire your writing… the homeless chronicles, however, have set a new standard for gutsy interviewing, admirable insight and serving as a catalyst for an intelligent discussion forum.

    Comments from Bridgette, Grammalyn, Bob, LizAnn, Brandon and others show a depth of compassion and comprehension that makes the North State a little better place today.

    Doug.

  27. Avatar Alanoz says:

    I have read all three parts of this most interesting and well written series on the homeless in Redding. I lived in Redding for 6 years, during the late 50's and early 60's, while in Jr. Hi and at Shasta High. I'm pretty certain the conditions with our economy, joblessness, homelessness, and issues surrounding mental illness and drug and alcohol abuse were not as prevalent then as they are now. Conditions have changed drastically! Unfortunately, support groups and government programs have not kept pace with the ever growing issues surrounding those individuals represented in these series.

    I have worked overseas for many years assisting the very poor – mostly women and children. I have also worked on a Crisis Hotlines, food banks, and literacy programs intended to help people find the sources of assistance needed to find work, shelter, and food. I do have a basic understanding of the conditions and outcomes that effect these people who depend on SS and other sources of income. It can't be easy – as Shannon said "who would hire me if I can't even afford a shower"!

    In conclusion I would like to add that I am surprised and disappointed in many of the comments made to the reporter, who I think has done a remarkable and thorough job of bringing to light a serious problem in America today. I think these accusatory comments miss the point completely..they seem to be blaming the writer/reporter, and people working on the problem, for the conditions that exist in Redding.

    My hat is off to Ms. Chamberlain. She has stepped out of her comfort zone and has spent considerable time to educate and inform the public. We need more courageous and inspired writing so we know all the facts and situations affecting the disenfranchised, poor, ederly, and vulnerable in our society…

    Mr. Alanoz

  28. Great description. I love to see clearly Martha

  29. Avatar Shannon says:

    Oh boy!

    I'm gonna go get me some chicken nuggets!

    Oh boy!

    Oh boy!